In posting a message to agora-business with the subject "Maximize
your website's traffic!", Steve committed the Crime of
Misrepresentation by listing "firstname.lastname@example.org" as the "From:"
Called by: Chuck
Final Judgement: TRUE
Board of Appeals: Crito (J), Blob (S), Morendil (C)
Decisions of Justices:
Justiciar Crito: OVERTURN/TRUE
Speaker Blob: OVERTURN/TRUE
CotC Morendil: OVERTURN/TRUE
Judgement of Board:
Initial Judge selection:
Eligible: harvel, David
Had their turn: Ørjan, Blob, Murphy, Peekee, Vlad, Kolja A.,
elJefe, Michael, Morendil, Elysion, Crito
Already served: -
By request: -
On Hold: -
Called by Chuck: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 01:07:45 -0500
Assigned to harvel: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 10:04:20 +0200
Judged FALSE by harvel: Sun, 2 May 1999 11:00:12 -0400
Judgement published: Thu, 6 May 1999 15:24:16 +0200
Appealed by Blob: Fri, 7 May 1999 13:29:54 +1000
Appealed by Michael: Fri, 7 May 1999 09:34:36 +0100
Appealed by Chuck: Fri, 7 May 1999 07:22:57 -0500
Appealed by Crito: Fri, 7 May 1999 09:48:53 -0400
Assigned to Board of Appeals: Fri, 7 May 1999 22:47:55 +0200
Decision O/TRUE from Blob: Fri, 14 May 1999 14:16:17 +1000
Decision O/TRUE from Crito: Fri, 14 May 1999 10:21:41 -0400
Decision O/TRUE from Morendil: Fri, 14 May 1999 11:09:10 +0200
Appelate decision published: as of this message
Justiciar's Decision :
As others have pointed out, there is ample evidence that the headers
are as much a part of the message, wrt legal significance, as the text
of a message. Justice Blob has presented an excellent articulation of
the position I hold, which is that the manipulations Steve admitted to
making on the spam message constituted the creation of a new
message, authored entirely by Steve, which contained a quote of
the spam along with additional material. The message which
was eventually distributed contained no indication of the actual
author, and no disclaimer that any portion of the material was
a quote of another message. Therefore, IMO, the message
was presented as authored and sent in its entirety by
'email@example.com'. As Steve has admitted, this is incorrect
and at the time e submitted the message, Steve knew it to
be incorrect. Steve's confession then leaves no reasonable
doubt that e committed the Crime of Misrepresentation.
I hereby move to overturn the original Judge's findings
and return a judgement of TRUE.
Speaker's Decision :
We have had much enlightening discussion on this issue, and I am sure that
we could continue to do so for a while longer, but our deliberation time is
running short, and a decision must be made. So I shall present the argument
as I see it, confident that my fellow Justices will ... any extreme
positions that I hold.
This case has boiled down to a discussion of who sent the message in
question. I think all of the Justices are agreed that the reasoning in
the original Judge's arguments are well meant but flawed. If Steve did
indeed send this message, then the headers are to be considered as part
of the "information" contained in that message, and can be taken to
assert the sender's identity. If we agree that Steve sent the message,
then we can confidently say that in doing so, he asserted that the sender
was someone other than himself. In doing so he "present[ed] as correct
information which e believe[d] to be incorrect", and so is guilty of
the Crime of Misrepresentation, as per Rule 1494.
So the argument hinges on the identity of the sender. Steve admits that
he had a friend send the original spam message to the lists, but Steve
stopped the message from reaching the PF. He also admits to then modifying
the contents of the message, and forwarding it on to the list. The question
is then, who is the legal sender of the second message?
There is a precedent for behvaiour of this kind. In his job as Distributor,
Steve has routinely blocked emails sent by Players, when there has been
problems with their mailers, or they have sent mail from other accounts.
This blocking is, admittedly, done automatically, but it is still done
deliberately by Steve.
These blocked messages have then on many occasions been forwarded to the
list by Steve, with appropriate anotations indicating that they were blocked
and forwarded by the distributor.
So we have a precedent for the Distributor blocking messages, modifying
them, and relaying them to the Public Forum. How do we interpret this
precedent, and how does it relate to the case at hand?
We have a precedent in the courts that says that a message can be "sent
to the Public Forum" even if it is never distributed to the players. And
many messages need only be "sent" in this way to have legal effect. So
in the case that the Distributor relays the message to the Public Forum,
we should not interpret it as sending the message to the PF a second time,
but rather that the Distributor is providing evidence that the first
message was indeed sent.
Game custom supports this conclusion. Messages relayed in this manner
and considered to have effect at the time the original message was sent,
not at the time the Distributor relayed them. Who, then, is the sender of
the second message? It is indisputably the Distributor.
Does this conclusion carry over to the message that is the subject of
this judgement? I believe it does. The original spam message was sent to the
Public forum by a non-Player. Steve blocked this message, modified it, and
relayed the new message to the PF. Who is the sender of this new message?
The same game custom explained above should prove that it is Steve. The
message is indeed _evidence_ of a message sent by a person other than Steve,
but is not itself that message.
At this point it might be asked, what does the Distributor have to do to
a message to affect its authorship in this way? Every message sent to the
mailing lists is manipulated by the Distributor in some way, automatically
but nevertheless deliberately. For example the Subject header is changed,
with the "DIS:", "BUS:" or "OFF:" indicator prepended. Game custom quite
sensibly regards this as irrelevant to the authorship of the message. Can
we clearly state what kind of changes warrant a change of sender identity?
Personally, I doubt that any strict definition will be useful. Rather, we
should use common sense to judge individual cases as they arise.
In this case, the modified message has a radically different legal effect
to the initial message. This is easily enough, in my opinion, to convince
us that it is a new message, with a different sender. I do not mean for
the converse to be considered necessarily true. A message may still be
considered to have a new sender, even if there is no change in legal
effect as a result. I leave that issue for another judge to decide.
Given that we can reasonably state that the message in question was indeed
sent by Steve, we can be confident in asserting that Steve has indeed
committed Misrepresentation in the sending it. This message differs from
other messages relayed by the Distributor in this way. In this case, Steve
made a deliberate attempt to disguise the fact that he had modified the
message and resent it. In other cases, the message is deliberately annotated
to show the change of identity, and so no Misrepresentation occurs.
Given this (admittedly lond-winded) argument, I rule to OVERTURN the
orignial judgement, and enter a new judgement of TRUE.
CotC's Decision :
As I have stated elsewhere, I feel that there are merits to both sides
of the debate regarding the matter of whether Steve's unconventional
manipulations of some text initially conveyed to the Public Forum by
the agency of a third person are of such a nature or extent that we
should deem Steve emself, instead of or in addition to, the original
poster, to have been the author or sender of the message in its final
However, I prefer to side with my fellow Justices, if only to stress
that (in my opinion at least) we are electing not to let the part of
the Judgement in 1125 that was concerned with identity - and quoted
in harvel's initial Judgement of this CFJ - stand as precedent,
insofar as this Appellate Judgement directly contradicts that portion
of the Judgement in 1125. (It is thus my opinion that the precedent
established by 1125 thus rests only on the 'clear indication' issue.)
I hereby enter a decision of OVERTURN/TRUE.
R1497 defines the Crime of Misrepresentation as a Player's presenting
as correct information which e believes to be correct as part of any
message sent to the Public Forum. Further, from CFJ 827, if it is
not clear that information is *not* presented as correct, then it
should be considered to *be* so. Thus, if the email address
"firstname.lastname@example.org" in the From: header is considered information
as part of a message presented as correct, then Steve did commit the
Crime of Misrepresentation.
However, as R1575 says, "A CFJ alleging that a Player has...committed
a Crime shall not be judged TRUE unless the evidence is sufficient
to be certain of that Judgement beyond reasonable doubt." If there
were no further evidence, this Court would be forced to return a
Judgement of FALSE, since there is a reasonable doubt that the From:
header should be considered part of the message with regard to
R1497. The body of an email message is the only part which has
legal standing-- one cannot make a Proposal in the Subject: header,
nor can one inform the Registrar of eir new email address simply by
changing the From: header in one's outgoing mail. The OFF:, BUS:,
and DIS: elements of the Subject: header, while useful for mailing
list participants, have no standing in the Rules.
Let us also consider the recent Judgement of CFJ 1125. Crito says, in
A message can be considered to have been sent by a given Player
if and only if the message clearly identifies that Player as the
author.... The "spam" post fails this test and, in the opinion of
this court, should be deemed not to have been sent by any Player.
Again, if we do not consider this, then a Judgement of FALSE must be
returned, because of reasonable doubt. If the Judgement of CFJ 1125
stands, however, a Judgement of FALSE must still be returned. If
Steve is deemed not to have sent the message, then e cannot possibly
be guilty of Misrepresentation.
Therefore, this Court returns a Judgement of FALSE.
Steve is not email@example.com, nor did he believe himself to be at
that address at the time the message was posted. While a mailing
list's moderator might be justified in posting a message which had
been rejected from a list to that list, this is not the case here, as
1) by Steve's own admission, the spam which makes up most of this
message was sent to Geoff Wong, and not to a-b, and 2) the message
was altered by Steve by the inclusion of additional text. Thus, the
message can only be construed as being from Steve, and by listing an
address which was not Steve's in the "From:" line, he committed the
Crime of Misrepresentation.
Evidence attached by the Caller:
"Evidence available upon request."